Automation as job killer in accounting: Fact or myth?
When people talk about automation, digitalization and robots, they quickly come to the idea that human labor is being replaced by modern technology. While this may certainly be the case for certain technologies and industries, automated document extraction does not lead to job losses. Rather, employees who previously spent much of their time manually entering data can now spend their time more wisely and no longer have to spend limited time on tedious document typing. Find out how modern document extraction can increase job satisfaction and why it doesn’t result in job losses, below.
Tedious repetitive work
It is estimated that almost 90% of all invoices worldwide are still processed manually. In addition, the approval processes for invoices are often complex and time-consuming due to the transmission organization. For accounting staff, these tasks therefore represent tedious and monotonous work, often leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.
The worst thing about it is that this is not just a small part of their work. The average accountant spends about half of his working hours processing such transactions.
New exciting tasks thanks to automation
As an accountant in the accounts payable department, the job descriptions typically list the following tasks:
- Sort, check and confirm invoice payments
- Entry of invoice data into the company’s accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
- Monitoring of expenses and processing of expense reports
- Archiving and maintenance of historical records
- Output analysis
- Keeping accounting books
- Identification of possibilities for cost reduction
- Provide documentation for audits
- Support for supplier relationships
- Identification of supplier discount opportunities for early payments
- Identification of payment discrepancies
- Independent management of the main, subsidiary and fixed asset accounting
- Payroll accounting incl. annual accounts / account reconciliation
- Participation in the preparation of the monthly reporting
- Assist in the preparation of forecasts, budgets and other analyses based on the financial statements (e.g. cost analyses)
However, as mentioned before, about 50% of the working time is used for manual data entry. This, although this is actually only one of the many tasks listed in the job descriptions.
Typically, a normal working day begins with processing a collection of paper and digital invoices. Despite high efficiency, the average employee needs a few minutes to enter the invoice data. Afterwards, they have to be checked again to make sure that nothing has been entered incorrectly. After all, we want to reduce sources of error for downstream processes to an absolute minimum.
The term “invoice processing” is actually just a melodious term for typing or inserting text and numbers into an Excel file, an accounting system or an ERP solution.
When almost 50% is spent on manual invoice processing, it is not surprising that there is not much time to tackle the remaining tasks. An average working day is therefore characterized by a constant state of boredom and stress. No wonder that in a survey, around 70% of all respondents would love to have a solution for automated data entry.
Lack of skilled workers in the fiduciary sector
Looking at the labor market, fiduciary professions are at the top of the skills shortage index along with engineering and technical professions. Furthermore, according to a study by Adecco, the fiduciary professions are the most sought-after professions in Switzerland. This also includes accounting jobs.
Professions in this category are therefore anything but at risk, which also makes dismissals a rarity. On the contrary, these professions definitely need more automation. Only by automating monotonous tasks can fiduciaries focus more on their actual core competencies and the core aspects of their profession. In this way, the focus can be placed more on creative and individual financial work instead of repetitive, trivial and relatively expensive work.
Digitization in this sector also has a positive impact on the dusty image of fiduciaries and can thus lead to a more attractive range of job profiles on the labor market.
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As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why modern document extraction is anything but a job killer. On the contrary – accountants only dream of having boring, repetitive work taken off their hands and being able to devote themselves to more fulfilling and truly value-adding activities.